TOWAMENCIN >> Her timely backhand providing a nifty finishing touch, Emily Hodges’ fourth and final goal of Thursday evening was the prettiest, and the capper in a 6-3 victory for Souderton Area over its toughest rival, defending state champion North Penn.
Hodges, scoring with her back to the goal with just 2:30 left to play, clinched Big Red’s first win over the Knights since 2007.
“Oh the backhand — I don’t know where that came from,” Hodges said amidst a happy celebration for visiting Souderton Area. “We felt really awesome at that point.
“This is huge. This was our goal, the team to beat, and it just feels so amazing to do it.”
In the second half of the doubleheader, the North Penn boys completed a regular-season sweep of Big Red, earning an 11-7 victory to improve to 13-3.
The North Penn girls (13-2) took a 1-0 lead in the first quarter of their game, off a goal by Maeve Wydan, and had a couple shots hit the post.
However Souderton tied it on a goal by Clara Burrell then pushed ahead 2-1 on a nice lob into the far corner by K.K. Hershey. Hodges’ first goal of the night gave Big Red a 3-1 lead at halftime.
“I just think we went into this game excited, feeling we had a good chance to win,” Hodges said of Big Red, now 8-2 on the year.
Defense was particularly a strength this time around for Souderton, holding high-powered North Penn — which averaged eight goals per game coming in — to just three scores. Big Red was able to split the regular-season series — the Knights prevailed 7-4 back in September — with most likely a rematch coming up at Easterns and possibly states.
The Knights got within 3-2 in the third quarter but a score by Hodges lifted Souderton’s lead back to two at the end of the period.
“We came out flat tonight and Souderton was ready to hit some shots,” Knights coach Jason Grubb said. “They hit a bunch of big shots and we just couldn’t answer tonight. We just missed opportunities and did not play our best game.
“Souderton definitely stepped it up and gave us a good game. It’ll definitely be a good match-up at the end of the year.”
After North Penn cut the margin to 4-3 early in the fourth, Hodges closed it out with back-to-back goals.
“I really hope (we can go far),” she said of what this win could do for them moving forward. “We wanna try to win states.”
The North Penn boys, getting exceptional performances from Aiden Daly, Derek Friday and Andrew Dunigan as well as a game-high four goals from A.J. Patterson, won their third in a row. A goal by Big Red’s Rory Sinkinson cut the margin to 4-2 before a 7-0 run by NP made it 7-2 at the break and 11-2 in the third.
“The boys played well. They came out aggressive, which is nice to see,” Grubb said of his squad, which is hitting the stretch run with plenty of momentum.
“We had a nice run at the Beast of the East Tournament, making it to the final — CV’s been kind of a thorn in our side. so that’s really what we’re shooting for.”
The Knights get another shot at Cumberland Valley next weekend at the Screaming Eagle Tournament.
Top Photo: Souderton goalkeeper Crystal Armstrong gets the save as she blocks a shot by North Penn’s Claudia Thamm during their game on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)